Magazine Article | October 18, 2006

Secure Your Stores

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

What LP (loss prevention) solutions ensure security for your stores? Are physical alarms, digital video systems, and an exception-reporting system necessary?

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, November 2006

LP methods vary based on the risks associated with each store location. Solutions must meet the individual requirements of each retailer, such as whether LP staff availability exists at store locations or if employees need to remotely monitor activities from corporate locations. Steven May, president and CEO of LP Innovations, and Robert Donnelly, construction manager for Whole Foods Market in the Northeast region, discuss the options for retailers seeking in-store LP solutions. LP Innovations provides LP services for retailers including in-store audits, investigations, POS-based reporting analysis, and remote video monitoring. Whole Foods Market is a large retailer of natural and organic foods with 187 locations in North America and the United Kingdom.

What types of store security solutions exist for the retail space today?

May: The most commonly found solutions in the retail marketplace are burglar alarms, CCTV (closed-circuit television), digital video systems, and EAS (electronic article surveillance). We’ve seen improvements in these solutions, such as better integration with other systems and increased speed or storage capacity. Technology is also spawning new solutions in the retail space that focus on specific areas associated with security and loss. Recognition video enables retailers with large-scale theft or ORC (organized retail crime) problems to better protect high-value merchandise and recognize professional thieves. Some security solutions integrate with store data to provide better reporting and analysis.
Exception-reporting solutions also integrate with store data to provide added value to existing LP solutions. Moreover, vendors that provide case management, digital video, and exception-based reporting solutions are now working together to offer integrated solutions, which provide retailers with increased usability and data analysis. Additionally, expanding exception reporting to direct store delivery, pharmacy, and other areas of retail help retailers quantify the value of LP systems and achieve a faster payback.

Donnelly: In our stores and DCs, we use physical alarm monitoring and multiple cameras to record activities in specific areas. Our cameras and monitoring system are tied into a fire alarm panel for additional coverage. By combining these devices with motion detectors, cameras and digital video recorders only record activities where movement occurs. Additionally, our corporate LP employees monitor all store operations remotely from our corporate offices.
The most convenient solutions for retailers of any size are one-stop solutions that provide both alarm monitoring and LP consulting. The convenience of integrating hardware installation and monitoring services piques the interest of small and midsize retailers because the solutions are more feasible when combined. Receiving services from a company that handles the entire LP process allows all of our store locations to be monitored through one provider and eliminates the need to manage separate local monitoring companies at geographically separate locations. For example, we receive services such as CCTV, consulting and planning, digital recording with remote access, EAS, alarm monitoring, and a maintenance program from one company (LP Innovations).

What are the most important features retailers should look for in a store security solution?

May: Report flexibility is the most important feature for an exception-reporting system. By being able to attack the data in different reporting formats — from scorecards, trend reports, historical analyses, and user-customized reports — the user gains greater insight into potential or existing problems. In addition, the ability to build or modify reports without contacting the original vendor saves time. Second, store security systems should integrate with other store systems, such as those for POS, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and temperature control (monitor refrigeration and detect fire). Integration often enables remote access, as well. The ability to research and review suspicious behavior or exceptions via remote video saves travel and investigative time, as well as resources. Finding an exception, retrieving video, and concluding research within minutes reduces time. Systems should also be backward compatible with older devices already deployed in the stores to reduce the initial cost retailers incur for LP solution upgrades.
The third feature is the ability for the system to extend beyond LP. Exception reporting is viewed as an LP and investigative tool; however, exception reporting used in different areas of the business (e.g. operations) can provide the retailer with a productivity tool. By affecting productivity and profitability, the retailer encounters more long-term benefits and a faster payback.

Donnelly: The most important feature for us has been the ability for store management to remotely access the CCTV system. This allows managers to monitor store activities via a laptop while in the store (i.e. from the backroom) and while away from the store. The second feature is alarm monitoring. Watching store locations 24/7 is simply not feasible, but the alarm monitoring provides an additional level of security. We know that the police and store managers will be contacted immediately if a break-in occurs or unexpected activities take place. Finally, the quality of the CCTV system is critical. If questionable activities are recorded, but the quality of the video is substandard, the system hasn’t served its purpose. We want to clearly prove that activities took place and that certain individuals were involved in those activities. Without clear records, evidence can be deemed inadmissible in court.  

What benefits can retailers expect from a physical store security solution that includes an exception-based reporting system?
May: Retailers should not limit themselves to the review of POS information and the detection of theft. Many retailers reap immense operational and training benefits using exception-based reporting solutions for a business enterprise approach. In order to achieve this, retailers need to capture as much information as possible and use the system to analyze that data. Exception reporting is an analysis methodology, which can reduce time, costs, and resources by applying it to non-LP related business objectives. Retailers can also address training inconsistencies and improve operations, merchandising, marketing, accounts payable, and sales auditing, which all can affect profitability.

Donnelly: The largest benefit for companies like us (that traditionally don’t have large theft issues) is the ability to rely on one company, such as LP Innovations, for a complete security system. LP is an area that is unfamiliar to us, so having one entity install the equipment, monitor store locations, and offer guidance provides protection that we don’t have to think about. We’ve also reduced the need for in-store LP staffing because questionable activities can be monitored from our corporate offices.